Walking tours can be chosen from the list below. It's a long list simply because I have been at this for several years and I am always looking for (and finding) something new. I don't do the same tour every day or every week. Routes and content are constantly reviewed so future walks can differ in detail from these. Tours may be adapted, with sufficient notice, for particular interests.
It will be assumed that you have read and accepted the general terms and conditions before making use of the tours.
People sometimes ask me for my favourite tour but I design all my own tours to be interesting and appealing. Every tour is filled with characters I like talking about. Many of my walks have unexpectedly beautiful corners. And I like Woolwich Royal Arsenal because hardly anyone thinks of going there.
The founding of the Royal Society in 1660 was a milestone in making the modern world. Its distinguished fellows have included Isaac Newton, Benjamin Franklin, Humphry Davy, Charles Babbage and Charles Darwin. The Royal Society is probably one of the first things in the mind of the science tourist in London. This tour takes in some former homes of the RS. But it is an unofficial tour. So rather than focus on big names this tour covers some interesting but lesser known characters. And even illustrious societies have bits of their past they might prefer to forget.
A 2 hour (approx) tour is enough for most people, but for 'completists' it is possible to extend it at a little extra cost for a fuller picture.
Stories for the science tourist of scientific ingenuity, heroic and curious experiments, scientific intelligence, cunning deception and pacifism. The walk unexpectedly embraces a wide range of topics including patent medicine and the circus.
There are two 'Nine Boffins' Westminster War Walks:
Making the earth move: stories of industry, invention and discovery around the well preserved old military heritage site, now at the centre of new development. For a while it was so secret that it was blanked on the map. Dickensian, but once a technical marvel, there is a Woolwich Royal Arsenal tour in which we are assisted by a Victorian guide book. Or there is a double-length Royal Arsenal, Common and Dockyard tour available. The longer tour supplements walking with some public transport and thus it is only suitable for smaller groups.) Absolutely NO football!
Brompton is a particularly attractive cemetery, often used as a film location, with an interesting set of scientifically inclined but colourful Victorians who have made this their last resting place. Medicine, natural history, engineering and invention.
I know Kensal Green Cemetery too.
200 years ago Sir Richard Phillips wrote about his perambulation through Georgian London past milkmaids, factories, windmills and workhouses. Doing all he did in a morning is unfeasible. But I'm thinking about retracing his steps part of the way this bicentenary year, with some readings at appropriate points. Please contact me if you would be interested.
Apart from a few iconic objects it can be difficult to appreciate the treasures in the Science Museum without the back story. The museum's own tours are very short and tend to focus on the famous. My tour for very small groups aims to highlight some of the neglected wonders you might pass by, and helps both scientists and non-scientists to enjoy the museum - explaining context, connecting the familiar and the unfamiliar, answering questions, and most importantly adding a human story.
The 1.5 hour tour focuses on the mechanical revolution and objects on the ground floor, with a London bias. I am also developing a tour concentrating on electricity, computing and communication, mostly on the second floor.
'This was an ideal way of learning more about the Industrial Revolution and its links to London. Very useful for me'
'Laurence introduces some unsung heroes of the Industrial Revolution and the ingeneous instruments, gadgets and machines they invented, without which Britain and indeed the world would not be the same today. Inspiring.'
Qualification for membership was only a love of science so members have been remarkably varied, from princes to poets, and soldiers to suffragettes. The tour explores social as well as scientific history. Not suitable for large groups.
The RI was founded in 1799 to disseminate and apply scientific knowledge. This tour covers its foundation, some of its leading scientists since then (Faraday, Davy etc.) and a few who only visited. Monday to Friday (subject to RI business beyond my control) it is often possible to see inside the historic building but a fascinating tour telling the story through other historic sites in the area is possible even when it is closed.
Ladies from the last 200 years with an enthusiasm for electricity, trousers and uncute pets. The much lauded figure of Ada Lovelace is NOT part of this tour because there are plenty of other interesting, determined, creative and engagingly eccentric women to celebrate. This longer tour in Paddington and Kensington.
Perhaps you are new to London but you are not interested in royalty, churches and shopping? You may still like to see the famous sights - from Buckingham Palace to Covent Garden. But instead of hearing about the usual stuff you can hear stories appropriate to these sights but about medicine, science, social history, technology and natural history.
Harley Street is famous for its doctors. This walk takes in a few of these but also inventors, a crank and a pathologist. The tour touches on music, buses, cattle plague, war, an unsuccessful culinary initiative and possibly (with due regard to the age of my audience) sex. Developed originally for National Science and Engineering Week.
There's too much to talk about round here to fit into a single tour. One variant of this tour emphasises some of the war stories associated with the area ranging from cookery to sabotage. A couple of very eccentric scientists lived here, and one even managed to entangle sex with a sextant. Another variation of the tour was for students of Imperial College and features the Great Exhibition of 1851 and some scientific stories from the early days of their institution.
Anyone can appreciate a rocket, or Stephenson's Rocket. But what of all the other mysterious machines, stuffed and mounted here, that you might never think to look at? This tour is intended to give a selection of them life through the story of those who created them, their context in terms of human progress, and their significance to London.
Not suitable for large groups.
Can a tourist be shown Bloomsbury without being told of the famous Bloomsbury Group and its literature, art and politics? Yes!
Come and hear some stories in the Georgian streets and squares of Bloomsbury of curious lives, strange adventures, startling achievements and forgotten by-ways of history around medicine, science, geeky ladies and war.
Variation: a War Walk, starting at one of the car parks. In this case there are few relics to see, but there are surprising stories to hear, and who does not enjoy a walk in the park?
Vauxhall is an area whose current attractions are somewhat neglected. In the old days of soap boiling and manure making it was generally said of Lambeth that 'The skies ain't blue and the grass ain't green.' We still pass the old gas works but now this is an area with greenery (partly thanks to the Blitz), interesting relics and remarkable stories including intelligence matters spanning 300 years.
Wimbledon is known for tennis. But it should be on the map for a host of other reasons - its amazing former residents. This tour to and through the village features discovery, invention and eccentricity: an aviator, a secret agent, an unconventional Victorian author, a Nobel winner (or two), an astronomer and so on...
This tour aims to be a tennis-free zone.
I am working on a tours involving Regent's Park, St John's Wood and Camden. I also expect to have a new London War Walk to offer soon.
Starts with some social and railway history around Victoria Station. Then improbably links a dirty fork, a dead wasp, a cigar and a stegosaurus. It introduces the remarkable former residents amongst the area's green squares including two Victorian scientists - one famous and the other almost unknown despite his putting every waking minute to good and sometimes bizarre use.
These are the names the scientific tourist may know, to give you an idea of the territory. My speciality is the interesting ones you don't know.
This is a list of places and institutions which have mostly vanished from the map London map (if they were ever on it) but which are covered among Laurence's different walks.
Please contact me.
Woolwich Arsenal, Sat 01 July 2017 Tickets available here.
Please check transport before travel especially at weekends.
to public tours appear here.
For queries, please email
Laurence$laurenceswalks.co.uk Substituting @ for $ in the appropriate place (anti-spam).
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